Last week I had the pleasure of attending a museum education workshop put on by the American Association for State and Local History. The training session drew a wonderful and diverse group of participants from museums around the country, and it was facilitated by effective and enthusiastic teachers from the Creative Learning Factory. I left with some great ideas for future museum programs, and I highly recommend looking into their workshops!
As an added bonus, the workshop was held at the Jewish Museum of Maryland in Baltimore. Having met members of their staff at past Council for American Jewish Museum conferences, I had looked forward to visiting the museum, which shares a campus with two historic synagogue buildings.
Alas, I was too busy making new friends and learning new skills to thoroughly document my trip, and I only took one photo. It’s from the Voices of Lombard Street exhibit, and something about this man with the chickens just yearned to be shared.
My favorite part of the tour was a wonderful exhibit called the The Synagogue Speaks in the basement of the Lloyd Street Synagogue. The building, built in 1845, is one of the oldest standing synagogues in the United States. In recent years, renovation and preservation projects have led to new discoveries about the history of the structure, which has housed three different congregations over the centuries, including one that happened to be Catholic. The Jewish Museum of Maryland’s exhibit displays fascinating artifacts, videos and interactive stations that explain the process of uncovering the history. Our visit to the recently excavated temple mikveh prompted interesting discussion among the majority non-Jewish group.
While Maryland is not part of our territory, the museum tells a story that shares a number of topics and themes with the Southern Jewish history that we work on ourselves: immigration and acculturation, economics and business, congregational transitions, regional food and culture, and so on. It is always a treat to see the great work being done at Jewish museums around the country!
Do you have a favorite Jewish museum?
Only this Jewish woman – this devoted, active, works-in-the Jewish community Jewish woman! – would meet and marry a man named Christian from “Body of Christ” (Corpus Christi!), TX!
In all seriousness, one of the realities of growing up and living in the South is that there are fewer Jews here. If there are fewer Jews, it’s not surprising that within the Jewish community here, there are many interfaith families and Jewish families that include non-Jews. But, what is the difference between interfaith families, and Jewish families that include non-Jews?
Though each family has its own identity, I do see a distinction. An interfaith marriage (or family) consists of two adults who each have their own faith, and maintain these separate faiths, bringing both faiths into the family. A Jewish marriage that includes a non-Jew can be shared between a Jew and a non-Jew, if the non-Jewish partner has no particular faith preference or faith expression, and their shared home is simply Jewish.
I think whatever you decide about who you will marry, how you will structure your lives, how you will celebrate holidays, involve yourselves in the Jewish community, and raise children – these are some of the most important decisions you will make. And they’re all decisions that should be made BEFORE you walk down the aisle! Frankly, a Jew marrying another Jew coming from a different religious observance background has to make some of the same decisions as a Jew marrying a non-Jew. Will you keep a kosher home? Will your son have a bris, or not? Will your kids go to Jewish Day School, or not? Will your family attend services on a regular basis, or not? Will Friday night dinner be a family Shabbat event, or not?
For all couples, the list is long, and the most important thing is to know where you both stand before you say yes! When it comes to the unique conversations around religious observance, interfaith, shared, or one-Jewish-partner-one-not, the resources at Jewish Outreach Institute are truly wonderful and inclusive of all. I would recommend that anyone look to JOI, or Interfaithfamily.com, for guidance and support.
My fiancé and I are to be married on the Saturday night before Passover, and we could not be more excited! Along the planning process we have spoken to the Rabbi and the Cantor, reserved a Chuppah, ordered Kippot with our names on them, and have assembled all the rest of the ingredients that make up a Jewish wedding – including, of course, our Ketubah.
When it came to the Ketubah, we did face a dilemma: Chris doesn’t have a Hebrew name. Actually, to be honest, I was not given an official one at birth myself; however, I adopted the name Hannah because it is the closest to Ann in Hebrew. Just for the heck of it I looked up the Hebrew equivalent of his name and, drum roll please… it’s Mashiach! Yeah, that was NOT happening. After we picked ourselves off the floor from laughing, we chose to phonetically spell out his name in Hebrew, Kuf, Reish, Yud, Samech (KRIS), and fill in the blank that way.
What are your thoughts on Jewish weddings, and what makes a Jewish marriage?
Sometimes oral history interviews yield interesting clips that don’t have a clear home among our current history resources. Fortunately, this blog now gives me a space to share some of these selections from our archives. The first one comes to us from an interview conducted this past June with Rabbi Martin Hinchin, who served for 31 years as rabbi of Gemiluth Chassodim in Alexandria, Louisiana.
In the clip below, Rabbi Hinchin talks about his years as a student at Hebrew Union College and his relationship with Dr. Jacob Rader Marcus. Dr. Marcus (1896-1995) was one of the first scholars of American Jewish History and the founder of the American Jewish Archives, which were renamed for him after his death.